A Little Bit Country by S.J. Frost with Vegan “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches, Sweet and Cool Creamy Coleslaw and wheat BEER!!!…Wait What?

18192843 WELL…I’ve only been waiting for this book for TWO YEARS, yes TWO YEARS!! This one is SPECIAL my friends.  The backtsory here is that two two of my lovely Goodreads ladies and I ganged up two summers ago and posted a photo for the M/M Romance Group Hot Summer Days event. The wonderful S.J. Frost picked it up, we wanted a country singer and rocker, rivals to lovers story and OHHHHH BOY did we get one! The Little Bit Country Short was DELICIOUS (it also featured a cameo of yours truly and my girls Mel and Tina as awesome fangirls :)) and I was over the moon to hear S.J. was thinking of making Ash and Jackson’s story into a full length novel…Fast forward to two years later and here we are my friends! Ash and Jackson are back, and they are as yummiliscious as EVAH!

Now you might ask yourself…Self? How is Laura going to come up with a dish and bevahRAGE that are down-country like, but with a rocker edge to it?…Well I made me some Vegan “Pulled Pork Sandwiches” and Sweet and  Creamy Coleslaw (also vegan!) that ROCKS THE HOUSE. I DID have to break one rule for these guys though…I just could not come up with a wine I wanted to drink more than the beer I’d be eyeing at the store while buying the stuff for the sandwiches and the coleslaw. Sooooo, for this post I chose a California beer (to give Ash some love) from Sierra Navada Brewery in Chico, California. My choice is SN’s hefeweizen (wheat beer) the Kellerweiss. It’s a delicious summer beer with a nice fresh taste, it’s not hoppy and is really fantastic with food which is high on the spice. And for $8.49 for a six pack…Gyddyup!

DSC_0239

But back to the book…So Jackson Abrams is the hottest thing in Country music, his nemesis Ash Ivers is just as big in the rock music world…They’ve been having a war of words in the media for three years. THREE YEARS, and even though they’ve never met he is sure that whenever he is face to face with the infuriating (and also insanely hot) frontman for the band From Ashes…SPARKS.WILL.FLY. He’s not sure what kind of sparks they will be, but something BIG is going to happen. So when Ash and Jackson end up playing at the same benefit concert for HIV/AIDS Research he finally gets to meet  Ash and as predicted…BOOM!!! Sparks fly every which way and pretty soon Ash is at Jackson’s ranch in complete twitterpatted bliss…Only tiny baby little problem is that Jackson isn’t really OUT, such as you would say OUT of the Closet, because he’s afraid his fans would not go for the Gay Cowboy thing (CRAZY PEOPLE!!!). But as it turns out once they begin their romance he is pushed out of the closet anyways, and in that moment, dealing with all that fallout Ash and Jackson cement what they have and they both realize anything is possible now that they’ve found each other.

This book reminded me a lot of another one of S.J.’s couples, Evan and Jesse, it was very fast romance, but they are so dear and INTO each other (HOT SEX alert!!) that you give them a pass. I enjoyed this book a lot, and I am HOPING that there is more from the cast in this book…Jeremy and the Country Music Executive perhaps?

I totally recommend this one. It is good to the last drop and VERY SMEXY. Sweet, funny, adoorable and please people a rocker AND a cowboy. It’s miracle my kindle didn’t burst into flames while I was reading!

A Little Bit Country will be released on August 16th by  MLR Press

Now here are the recipes. It is fast and delish vegan food for those of us who still my delicious tangy BBQ.

Sweet and Cool Creamy Coleslaw

1/4 cup Raw Cashews
2 tbsp White Onion
5 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Water
1 tsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/8 tsp Salt
14 oz Coleslaw Salad Mix
Soak cashews in water for an hour then put all the ingredients (except the coleslaw mix) in a blender (I use a Vitamix) and blend to smooth. Mix slaw and dressing and let sit for 45 minutes. I also ass a pinch of mustard seed to the salad with gives it a nice zing.
DSC_0218
Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Makes four sandwiches)
1 package seitan strips sliced thin (I use West Soy Seitan)
For the dry rub:

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp of ancho chili powder

pinch garlic powder

pinch onion powder

1 tsp salt

For the wet sauce:

3 Tbsp organic ketchup

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp canola or other neutral oil

1/2 tsp tamarind paste ( I used tamaring chutney)

1/4 c. water

2 tsp maple syrup

Directions:

Stir in dry rub into the seitan strips and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Once seitan has marinated with dry rub, in a large skilled put a 1/2 tablespoon of oil and sautee, onions and garlic until fragrant. Once the onions have browned add the seitan and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the wet sauce to the mix and simmer for  a few minutes.

Divide evenly amongst your bread or rolls and serve topped with coleslaw and sweet pickles. I also served it with my favorite  vegetarian baked beans (from a can, cuz I ain’t a machine!!). This is a delicious comfort food type of meal, served with a super cold beer, together with a little bit of Ash and Jackson to read it’s the perfect way to spend a summer evening!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

Love Like Water by Rowan Speedwell and a light South African White Wine

LoveLikeWaterLG Rowan Speedwell is one of my favorite authors in this genre, she is not as prolific as a lot of the M/M authors out there, but what she lacks in volume she more than makes up for with quality. Her previous novels Finding Zach and Kindred Hearts are two of my favorite stories in this genre. She writes beautfully and always has the redemption and new begginings theme that I love. Her characters are often broken and dark, and being the sucker I am for the angst, she usually hits all my buttons. With Love, Like Water, Rowan eased off the heart wrenching angst a bit though. This story was a lot less gut twisting, in part because she focused on both main characters equally, instead of letting us experience the story through the eyes of the more broken character. Still she wrote a very straightforward romance with all the bells and whistles necessary to have readers sighing, aawwing, and cheering for her men to get their happy ending….Now for the wine.

This novel is set in New Mexico one of my FAVORITE places on Earth. I love everything about the plce but that desert can get HOT and it is summer, so I chose a South African white wine from J. Joostenberg Winery, a small family vineyard in the Western Cape of South Africa. This white is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne grapes and the result is delicious fresh wine with hints of peach and berries, that is perfect for hot summer day. For about $11 dollars a bottle right on the cusp of my speding limit the J. Joostenberg Family Blend White is a good one to splurge on.

Book, Wine and fruity snack.

Book, Wine and fruity snack.

Now the story.

Joshua Chastain is a Federal agent that has just come out of a three year undercover assigment a completely broken man. He was in deep with one of the Latin gangs in the inner city of Chicago, he did what he was asked, he got the bad guys and enough evidence to put them away forever, but in the process he totally lost himself…At 28 he’s a recovering addict, just getting out of the rehab he had to go through for heroin. The nightmares from the things he had to do on the job are slowly driving him insane. The guilt is almost unbearable. He’s going to succumb to all that despair, all that darkness if something doesn’t change soon. His mother who can see that she’s going to loose her son if she doesn’t do something drastic, calls her brother in New Mexico and asks him take Joshua in he needs to be somewhere different, somewhere new. Tucker Chastain is happy take Joshua in, he’s very proud of his nephew and having no children of his own he’s happy to teach the ins and out of running a horse ranch to Josh so that one day he can continue the family business. So Josh goes West.

There are complications though, the main one being that Eli Kelly the foreman of The Triple C ranch is handsome, too handsome really and kind, and he makes Joshua want  things that he knows a man like him with innocent people’s blood on his hands has no business wanting. Eli is a man used to working with broken animals, and he knows despair and a crushed spirit when he sees one. As soon as he lays eyes on Josh he knows that it’ll be his job to make that man feel safe adn whole again. Something about Josh makes Eli want to make him better, to protect him. Show him that he has someone to hold him up, when he can’t do it himself. Josh is so broken, he is skin and bones, and it seems like even making it through the day is a struggle. Ely and Tucker,  and the other people on the ranch don’t give up on him though and despite the setbacks and Josh’s stubborness, they are able to make him see that he deserves the love that is being offered to him. That he deserves a home.

This is a pretty simple romance in many ways, which I appreaciated, there is enough angstyness in the story to make the reader savor the happy ending without the wrung out feeling that books with a premise like this one could leave you with. There were some pretty spectacular moments of delicious intimacy between Eli and Josh, those two are sizzling hot when they get in on. There are also beautiful scenes of the New Mexico landscape that really enriched the story. On a personal note I must say that the Spanish was very accurate, bad Spanish is a sticking point with me, and I have very little to complain this time. The use of the expression “mijo” did bother me a bit, but I got past it.

I loved the role the horses had in the story as well as the secondary characters. All and all this was a pretty complete love story, straight up “traditional” romance for those of us who call M/M our romance home. Humor, love, some angst, and hot cowboys having hot sex…What more can you ask for really?

Very nice, for Rowan’s fans a definite and for those who have not read her books for fear that they are too heavy this is a great one to start with.

Love, Like Water is for sale at Dreamspinner Press

That is all from me today, enjoy your book with a chilled glass of wine.

CHEERS AND HAPPY READING!

Laura